I talked about QR codes a few weeks ago and you can see that entry here. Judging by the amounts of hits the entry got, it would appear I’m not the only person who has been considering QR codes.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m an avid reader of Nina Simon’s blog Museums 2.0. This week she has blogged about QR codes, and I had a ‘doh!’ moment. You can read Nina’s blog entry here.
In my original entry I pointed that not many people know about QR codes, although it never dawned on me to offer a solution. Which is where Nina’s entry fills in the blanks I missed out! QR codes without context only appeal to a small audience, by putting the code in context they become more appealing to a general audience. It’s not rocket science, which is why I am a little embarrased I never even considered it in my original post!
One of the other things I said was not everyone has a smart phone, on that note you may find this article by the BBC interesting. The general tag line is a third of adults use a smart phone, however there are loads of interesting bits of information in there.
There is a potentially massive audience with smart phones out there. Are QR codes the best way to engage this increasing audience?
Having blogged about objects last week, this week I’m going to do something of a little update as I’ve got two interesting things I want to talk about which I can’t really link back to collections.
Firstly, I’ve added a new link to another National Trust Blog. It’s the blog for 575 Wandsworth Road and will cover all aspects of the conservation work going on there over the next few months. It’s really well written and well worth checking out, in fact here is the link!
Secondly and this is a bit of a follow up from a blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Ever since I blogged about QR codes I seem to be seeing them everywhere. It might be they are just stuck in my conscious, but they seem to be popping out of everywhere. For example I’ve was reading mashable this morning and saw this article, its about a chap who has put a QR code on his mothers headstone which links to a website where people can read and add memories of her. I had to read it a couple of times, but the more I thought about it the more I thought it was actually a really nice idea.
A QR code in Pizza Express linked to their App.
It hasn’t just been there though, I was sitting in Pizza Express for lunch the other day and all of a sudden I noticed there was a QR code on the vase of flowers. The code itself took you to the Pizza Express App.
And it hasn’t stopped there either, my car was in the garage most of the weekend having the brakes fixed and I was ‘forced’ to watch excessive amounts of Saturday morning TV which consisted of a lot cookery shoes. I sat through the usual footage of someone cooking and talking through a recipe, thinking that the baked papardelle, proscuitto and porcini mushrooms looked really good and fairly simple to make. However where traditionally a program like this might direct viewers to it’s website, all of a sudden a QR code popped up!
A QR code on the TV, directing to a recipe for some rather tasty looking pasta!
You may have guessed I like my food from the above, but hopefully you’re more interested in the different ways QR codes are being used and are creeping out all over the place!
QR or ‘Quick Response’ Codes have been about since 1994 when Denso-Wave Corporation invented them Japan. That being said the greater use of smart phones with cameras has meant there has been a greater use of these nifty little codes in recent times. In fact I only heard about them in March when a Information Officer friend at Newcastle Libraries told me all about them.
Go on, see where this QR code takes you!
This growth has been especially true in the Museum/Heritage Sector. There are various example of QR code usage in the Heritage Sector including:
- National Museum of Scotland: Tales of Things – Using QR codes to provide information about object including rare film and images and allowing users to leave memories and comments. Tales of things uses an App format.
- QRATOR– UCL takes the work around the Tales of Things project further by using QR codes to allow visitors to view curated information and leave their own interpretation. QRATOR links to a database.
- QR-Pedia: Site used to create QR codes to wikipedia sites, allowing access to wikipedia articles in a mobile-friendly format.
I think the best way to think about QR codes is they are simply a mobile readbale web address, they can create a link between the real world and our increasingly digital world. So why have they become so popular recently, especially when linked to Museum Collections? Well not only because of the aforementioned upsurge in smart phone usage, mobile cameras and increased mobile internet speeds and access.
Using QR codes are cheap, in fact most readers and generating codes are free. Creating the codes can be done in house. Secondly, you could link it to exisiting websites; for example those online collections databases that many Museums have already spent lots of money on. This is particularly true if the site is already mobile friendly.
Of course, all this blurring of the real and digital world also has it’s problems. Not everyone has a smart phone, how many people are aware of QR codes (although they are out there when you look!) and how do we overcome the age all problem of reliable internet access at sites not designed with this in mind (like so many NT sites)?
As you may have noticed below your google search bar yesterday, the 1st saw the lauch of Google Art Project. To quote the website, “the project is a unique collaboration between google and some of the most acclaimed art museums to enable people to view and explore more than 1000 artworks in extraordinary detail”.
Virtual visitors can choose to view galleries from 17 major institutions
The site has three major features. For those who have used googles streetview, the first will be familiar. Google have taken the technology used to image the streets of the world inside these major art institutions. I’ve attached an picture of myself navigating around Room 9 ‘Art and Sublime’ at Tate Britain. Navigation is simply carried out by click arrows back and forward.
Google have taken its streetview technology inside some of the world most famous art museums.
The other major technology related feature is looking at the art itself. You can select to view the art work on the wall in closer detail using street views zoom feature. Here is the digital version of Turners ‘Death on a Pale Horse’. Each artwork also has ample amounts of information such as viewing notes, artists history etc.
Virtual visitors can move around the galleries and view detailed images of the works on show.
Each institution has also nominated a piece for ‘giga-pixel’ photography. As the press release states ‘each such image contains around 7 billion pixels, enabling the viewer to study details of the brushwork and patina beyond that possible with the naked eye’.
The third interesting feature is that those with google accounts can sign in and create their own collection from the 17 galleries. You can even add comments to specific zoom levels. All this can be then be shared with family and friends!
It’s an impressive site, which of course also has some failings. A quick search this morning found this article in the telegraph. I think the author may have been expecting too much. Here’s hoping that google continue to add new galleries in the future. In the meantime if you want to see some real Turners, Petworth House in West Sussex has ample to choose from!